Later Than The Late

mime funeral

Earlier this month, we received an announcement in the mail.  The man who had paid for my step-daughter’s education at Seattle University and her first year at Bastyr University, had died.

He was a well-to-do eastside businessman, who decided to reinvest some of his money into helping people make more of their lives.  Somehow, he became aware of Kjersti’s promise and so, he covered her SU tuition.  It was a very generous and noble thing to do.

So, when the announcement came from his widow and we learned of a memorial service at the Bear Creek Country Club on April 18th, my wife felt a strong calling to attend that service.  I would go along for support.  We read in the program sent to us that Tim Eyman was going to be the main speaker.  By the sounds of it, it was going to be quite the gathering of the who’s who of area conservatives.

The morning came, Kjersti was unable to attend because of teaching a class, but Victoria and I headed out to Woodinville.  We were running behind, so I picked up the pace as best I could.  We still arrived there a few minutes after noon, hopped out of the car and dashed up towards the clubhouse.

Nothing.  No signs of where the memorial was being held.  In the main dining hall, staff was setting up for a wedding reception.  The head of catering was busy and said that he would get to us in a few minutes, which went even longer.  It was then I said, “I’ll run out to the car and re-read the program.”

I got to the car, read the date and location carefully again.  Yep, April 18th.  Bear Creek Country Club, check.  Oh, wait.  The important detail we had failed to notice on the program—April 18th, 2014.

Yes, on the one-year anniversary of his passing, his widow had sent the funeral notice to us.  Probably taking care of loose ends, thinking Victoria and Kjersti would want to see it and most likely wondering why they hadn’t been there a year ago.

For the record, we were there–exactly one year after the service.

As for being late to events, I now have a new personal best and a feeling that record might just stand for a while.

Tim Hunter

Anybody Seen My Old Friend Jon

I only hung out with Jon Lemler for three or four years.

Actually, I’ve known Jon a total of 40+ years. But the time we spent together at Torrance High School amounted to no more than a max of three years. Back in those days, you went to elementary school, then high school. Grades 1-8 and then off to grades 9-12. I had heard the terms “middle school” and “junior high”, but they didn’t apply to my world.

With that big of a jolt, 9th grade for me was mostly spent getting used to this whole new existence. After all, I had only been in public schools two years, after attending a Lutheran school my first six grades. Being a new kid means getting picked on, laughed at and even the occasional threat of being beaten up. Ironically, it was my sense of humor that saved me several times and eventually, the bullies came to like me. I discovered that comedy was a great way to win people over.

With something like 5 elementary schools all contributing to Torrance High School, there were a lot of new faces and personalities. Somewhere along the way I met this white kid wearing an Afro-style haircut named Jon Lemler. If I remember it right, I became good friends with a couple of guys who attended the same elementary school as Jon, so  eventually we all started hanging out together.

I don’t think Jon was a jock or played music. He may have been in choir or the chess club, I just don’t know. All I remember is him being a little quirky, sorta funny and that he had mastered a talent of which I was highly envious—he could play music with his hands.

Now that we’re over 40 years removed from those high school days, actual memories are pretty limited. But one that almost everyone who knew Jon will likely remember is that evening at “Senior Talent Night.” Being a class president, I thought it would be fun to have a talent show and so, Jon took the stage and tore the house down with his version of “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his hands.

That skill came up every five or ten years when we managed to gather again for a class reunion. I have to say that Jon and I probably became better friends after high school than during.

Eventually, Jon took those magic hands and wandered into Chiropractic care and naturopathic medicine. Every reunion, while the rest of us continued our outward expansion, Jon continued looking pretty good. Down right healthy.

So, when another classmate started an email this week with the words, “I have some sad news to pass along”, Jon’s name was the last one I expected to see.   It seems he was attending a convention in Las Vegas earlier this month, when he suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack, at age 60.

I know Jon meant a lot to so many people—his family, his patients, his classmates. But he also played a big part in the life of my wife, Victoria, who felt compelled to write down her thoughts earlier today:

To The Friends & Family of Dr. Jonathan Lemler:

I met Dr. Lemler at a Torrance High School reunion as he was a classmate of my husband, Tim Hunter.  I believe this was the summer of 2008.  We began talking about our lives and the subject of me having been diagnosed with a kidney disease came up in our conversation. On one hand he was not very optimistic for me, but the more he thought about it, and he thought about it after the reunion as well, he emailed my husband and suggested a treatment for my liver, mushroom in origin, that would help my liver so it could support my kidneys. Up until this time my stats were not moving much in the positive direction. Once I started this treatment the numbers began to improve.  With a combination of this treatment, my naturopath and nephrologist, my kidneys slowly edged toward remission.  By 2011, my numbers were normal again. I will never forgot how much he cared, how hard he worked to help save my life because in fact, that is what he did.

He will be missed and I am extremely grateful to have known him.

Victoria Hunter

Seattle, WA

What more can I say other than I wish to God I could have had one more chance to say thanks for all you did, for Victoria and myself. God’s peace.

And for those who didn’t see it earlier on Facebook, here’s a clip of Jon from our 20-year reunion.

Too soon, man. Too soon.

Tim Hunter

Yes, It’s Hot in February

Here we go!

Here we go!

I’ll be honest. When I heard the news stories talking about this being “a seller’s market”, I was thinking when it came to my involvement that would mean a “Peter Sellers market.”

After all, when I bought my Bothell home back in 2006, I was watching house prices escalate at a phenomenal rate. Part of my inspiration to buy was the feeling that if I didn’t buy now, it wouldn’t be long until I wouldn’t be able to afford a house in Seattle.

So, when my real estate dude Bruce Fulton found this little 3-bedroom home backed up against a greenbelt in Bothell, I made a run at it. And, to make sure we got it, I gave them an offer $3,000 over the asking price of $367,000.

It was right after the ink dried on that contract that the signal was given for the economy to crash and the housing industry to bust unlike it had done in the last 100 years.

But, no worries. I was in this for the long haul.  Eventually house values would come back up.  I would just sit on the back deck, listen to the birds chirping, watch the rabbits dash through the yard and just take it easy.

Then I met a girl, fell in love, and we decided that little home wasn’t big enough for my new family configuration, so we bought the closer-to-Seattle home where we now live. I turned the Bothell residence into a rental. I only enjoyed living there for a year.

Luck was on my side, as I managed to get two great renters over the past 8 years. When the latest renter informed me she was no longer interested in buying the home and was moving south, it was time to make a run at selling it.

As poorly timed as the purchase was, the selling apparently was the complete opposite. Bruce said we should have no problem getting $369,000 for it. That was much welcomed news, especially since Zillow had two “values” posted for the home, the highest only $323,000. (just this week, there was an online news story about Zillow and their unreasonably lower values)

To make sure that it sold as soon as possible, I pulled out all the stops. Tweaked the inside to perfection with new carpeting and touched-up the painting. Put in a gravel path on the side yard, re-stained the deck on the two dry days in January. I had already put on a new roof this past year, repaired the garage door, replaced the front porch. Around $4,000 of freshening up later and the house was ready.

Oh wait—the smart money suggested “staging” the house. You’d think that wide-open rooms would look big, but having the right furniture in them makes all the difference and helps buyers with limited imaginations see how the house could look.

Now THAT'S staged!

Now THAT’S staged!

 

Another $1,700. (estimates were as high as $2500)  OK, now we’re ready.

Day 1:  On Thursday, the home’s first day on the market, one of the first people in the house made an offer–at full price, but they wanted me to cover the $5K in closing costs. With an open house scheduled for Sunday, we decided to wait and see what happened.

Smart move.

Day 4:  30 couples came through Sunday afternoon, between 1-4pm. At the end of the day, there were 3 offers on the table, two above asking price. We looked at each of the buyers and when all was said and done, I was signing documents Sunday night at 8 for a $378,000 real estate deal. Yep–$9,000 over asking price.

It’s been a long road and I still won’t recover what I put in, but the journey is almost over. There’s a couple that is going to get a great house they’ll enjoy for years to come and that part of my life is now about to close.

As much as I enjoyed Peter Sellers, I’m glad it has become a good old-fashioned seller’s market. If you’ve even thought about selling in the near future, current market conditions and the low interest rates pretty much say, “Do it now!”

Tim Hunter

The Home That Got Away

Shooting the Penguin Windows commercial at the house

Shooting the Penguin Windows commercial at the house

On February 4th, I’m putting a little piece of me up for sale.

It’s the home I bought back in 2006, when I was starting life anew.  I found this little rambler in Bothell, backed up against a greenbelt, with a huge deck and fenced yard.  I was watching house prices skyrocket out of control and figured if I didn’t hurry up and buy right then, I’d never be able to afford to buy a home in the Puget Sound area.

That was the thinking.  I had $60K as the result of a divorce that I was going to invest somewhere and this seemed like the perfect little place. 3 bedrooms, large master bedroom.  I even allowed the company I worked for at the time to use it to install Penguin triple-pane windows and film it for a TV commercial.

I remember a great summer backyard open house out on the deck and what fun it was.  A deer once wandered through the neighborhood.  Being in the back of the development, only people who lived there would drive by.  There were the neighbors, Dana & Tammy, Norm & Susie and several others whose names I’ve forgotten.

Then, less than a year after buying it, I met a woman too amazing to let get away.  My little rambler was too far from downtown to make it ‘our’ home, so we ended up buying a different home and I planned to sell off the Bothell residence.

But you may have notice the key phrase, 2006, above.  I bought at the absolute peak of the housing market and the crash that followed prevented me from selling.  So, for the next 8 years, I rented it out.  I had never planned to be a landlord, but I found myself in that position–having to fix garage doors, replace a water heater, re-roof, etc.  Combine that along with the fact that rent was hundreds under the payment and it was basically a financial stone around my neck.

However, I got lucky, with two dream tenants who treated the home as if it was their own.  When the most recent tenant decided to move south to be closer to family and with the market recovering, it just seemed like the right time to make my move.

Ten years from now it would be the perfect place to be.  We’re just not at that stage yet.

What I’d like to share with you–with all the preparations that have gone into getting it ready to sell, it’s a really awesome house.  More awesome than it ever was when I lived there.  That made me realize what a shame it is to live in your home and never enjoy its potential.  I’ve become even more resolved, once this adventure is over, to get our Seattle home to where we imagine it could be.  To get it ready to sell, and then… just live there.

If you know someone looking for a home, you might pass this link along to them. It gives a snapshot of what the house is all about, but I’ve got to tell you: it now looks even better.  Just send a note to tim@wackyweek.com and I’ll hook you up with my real estate guy.

I look forward to being an ex-landlord, but at the same time, I’m going to miss that little place.

Tim Hunter

Christmas Is Up To You

Santa in Hammock

I’m guessing that, with Christmas falling on a Thursday this year, this blog is probably my last in 2014. I’m pretty convinced the world won’t spin off its axis, that it’ll still rain in Seattle and you’ll have watched at least one of the versions of “A Christmas Carol”. (the 1952 Alistair Sim version is really the only version)

So, with that buried deep in my sub-conscious, I’m being more observant of all the things going on around me. I’ve thought about going several directions with this piece and I’ve decided to go in all of them.

Today, I was at the Post Office, trying to get out my parents and sister’s Christmas package in the mail so that it would arrive before the big day. I walked in, saw a HUGE line at the in-person desk (with only two clerks), but there was a six-person wait at the automated machine. No-brainer. I get in the line, waited….and waited for my turn. I was almost there, when the person ahead of me informed me that the machine was full and could no longer do packages.

So, I headed over to the in-person line, which was even longer than when I first arrived. About ten minutes into that, the person who had been in front of me in the other line came over to give me the good news: the machine was working again AND there was no one in line! By the time I had taken care of the postage, I was in and out of there in less than 25 minutes. These days, that’s pretty good.

To my next story.

Without going into the “who”, I saw an acquaintance yesterday that I knew had been having health issues. Here it is, the “happiest time of the year” and she was one of many people having to deal with real life. This particular friend had spent last week getting medical treatments. This week, she was home, but you could just look at her and know things weren’t right.

The other day, I got a call from a friend, going through her first Christmas without her husband of 38 years.

Then there’s the tradition that was rekindled this morning, when I record “A visit with Santa Claus” with my radio buddy Bryon Mengle for his radio station back in Iowa. Something that I wrote and that is most likely heading to next year’s Christmas CD.

That’s another cool tradition. For the 14th year, I’ve put together a compilation of Christmas songs and comedy bits for a CD I call, “Ho Ho Brother.” This year’s edition is “Ho Ho Brother 14.” In all those years, I’ve only used the same version of a song once. Otherwise, every collection is different. I thought, for a while, about just offering it as an audio file, as CD’s are this close to extinction, but I know too many people on my list that still use that technology.

I’m rambling. But where I’m heading with all this is that Christmas happens during life. There will be ups and downs. I’ve got a dad who is failing in health and may not see another Christmas. This is the year to make it count. To enjoy every carol. To watch the amazement of kids when they meet Santa or rip open that present on Christmas Day. To realize that being happy and hopeful and full of dreams is a much-preferred way to live.

As I wrap this up, terrorists from North Korea forced Sony Pictures to stop the release of a movie. A fictional tale of an attempt on the leader of North Korea, but an idea that was crushed by international bullies.

So, what’s next?

I’ll tell you what’s next. Next Wednesday night, millions of kids around the world will find it hard to sleep because they don’t know what Santa will leave for them and what he’ll put in the stockings they left out.  Will he take a bite of that cookie they left on the hearth? And drink the glass of milk?

It’s Christmas. Let it be a magical time for you and yours.

And then, come December 26th, we’ll get back to dealing with all that real world stuff.

Merry Christmas.  See you all next year.

 

Tim Hunter

Random Thankfulness

turkey

It’s the day before we’re supposed to officially be grateful for all we’ve got, but I thought I’d get a head start.

I tend to over think things and so, the first place I go is that “if you talk about all the good things in your life, you’ll make someone having a tough time right now feel worse.”  That is not my intent.  Intention has to count for something, right?  This collection of words is about gratitude.  As we approach a season dripping with “What can I get?”, I’ve already got plenty and I just want to acknowledge it.

I have to start with the fact that my wife and I are in good health and our kids are all doing just fine. Life will never be perfect, but each challenge is an opportunity to grow and help better equip you for the next bump that comes along. They happen.

As recently as yesterday, I found out that we’ll have all the kids with us at Thanksgiving brunch.  We might actually be able to get in a group picture and as you get up in there in years, you know how challenging that can be to have everyone in the same spot at the same time.  This year, Photoshop gets the year off.

I’m waking up every day and doing exactly what I want to do and that’s among the greatest blessings anyone can ask for.  In the almost two months of Tim Hunter Creative Services, I’ve had a steady stream of meetings and projects that pay the bills. You just can’t ask for much more than that.

I find it ironic that a day originally designed to be free of gifts, commercialism and want has been invaded by stores being open and sales that intend to make you want more than what you’ve got.  You can shop any time. In this day and age, wake up at 2am, think “I need that”, go to the computer and order it and it’s there two days later.  Do everything you can to keep Thanksgiving a day of reflection, football, roasting turkey or tofurkey in the oven and just talking with family who won’t always be there.  These are the times we’ll remember in the years ahead.

I’ve been around long enough to realize that “the good old days” are actually right now.  Over time, our selective memories filter out the blemishes and we’ll recall that year back in 2014 when we started making sure that every Thanksgiving Day counted.  When we  remembered all that we have instead of all that we need or want.

The happiest of Thanksgiving to you and your kin.

Tim Hunter

Maybe After All This Time, It’s You

What a difference a couple of years can make.

What a difference a couple of years can make.

Politics is such a touchy subject.

I’ve blogged about this before, at the risk of alienating some friend or relatives.  But that would be OK.  If you are that far off the chart, then we probably should communicate less. For the greater good.

Because, you see, I’m pretty loosey-goosey when it comes to politics and religion.  I have my ideas, my beliefs and they’re all mine.  I continue to search for input and growth, but how I think is entirely up to me.  The same is true for you.

Witness the election results from the past week.  Once again, there was a political swing in this country.  The ones on the losing side discount it or belittle those who voted that way.  The winners gloat, as if they’ve been given permission to revolutionize the planet.

As always, the truth is right there, smack dab in the middle.

When you don’t have an agenda, or a checklist that you measure everything with, you can actually have an open mind.  That gets back to that “thinking for yourself” outlook on life.  It’s a great place to be.

As you saw with the TV political maps, there are red areas of the country and blue areas.  However, they didn’t just print those maps up a couple of hundred years ago.  The reds and blues, much like the website passwords I can never remember, keep changing.  Yes, there are areas that will always be blue or tend to go red.  So let’s remove those from the discussion and focus on the rest of the country.  I’m proud to say, it swings based on how people feel the job is getting done.  There were states that voted Reagan in who elected Barack Obama to be our president.  This last election, there were states that elected Barack Obama who voted out senators and congressmen in his party.

I’ve watched the posts on Facebook.  I live in a fairly liberal, very blue part of the country.  You would have thought Martians had landed and taken over.  Nope, those are Republicans who went back to the basics of the party, rather than the fringe wackjobs that have forced themselves up on the stage in recent years.

Being an “in the middle” guy has its drawbacks.  Because there are a lot of things I don’t like about both of the major parties.  I want our government to help people, but not to create a land of dependency.  I’m glad to give you money to improve our lives, but not to recklessly spend it.

Maybe you’re one of those who fills out your ballot by looking for the D or the R.  You’ll always be red or blue.  But as we go back to the map, you’ll see that the majority of the country went red this time.  A lot of those people were blue just two years ago.  That gives me hope, as people are realizing they have the power to tell our politicians to do their job, or we’ll find someone who can.

While the negative campaign ads drive me nuts, election night results are the payoff.  Vote how you feel the world should be run and then let’s see what the majority thinks.  I’m not always in it, but I’ve been around enough to see the country swing right, then left, then right again and back to left.  It’s healthy.  It’s what a democracy is supposed to do.  Those people who voted differently than you this time are just voting with their hearts and minds.  It’s how they feel.

If you can’t understand how they could possibly go away from the promises and rhetoric of a party, consider just for a moment–instead of them being less qualified to vote on the important issues of the day, maybe it’s you?

Tim Hunter